The Pierre Auger Observatory was built in Argentina to investigate the astrophysical origin and characteristics of cosmic rays with energies above 100 PeV. The hybrid design of the Observatory comprises a set of 27 fluorescence telescopes overlooking an area of 3000 km² covered by an array of 1660 water-Cherenkov detectors. The Pierre Auger Collaboration has measured with unprecedented precision a strong suppression of the flux of cosmic rays above 40 EeV. Moreover, a tendency towards a heavier composition with increasing energy has been observed above 1 EeV. Although these results, amongst many others, have improved our understanding of ultra-high energy cosmic rays, an irrevocable theory that explains their sources, acceleration, and propagation throughout the cosmos is not yet established. It became clear that a larger amount of data sensitive to composition is needed. To that end, the Observatory is upgrading its surface detectors with the installation of scintillators on top of each water-Cherenkov station. In this project, we will study the responses of the upgraded detectors. The new setup will introduce modifications of the treatment of the signals that will be investigated, understood, and validated by comparing them with the current signal processing. Ultimately, we will study the reconstruction of events with the new data which should impact the determination of observables such as arrival direction and energy of the primary cosmic rays. This project will bring direct benefit to the scientific work of the Pierre Auger Collaboration, since the future processing of the data from the upgraded stations will heavily rely on the new signal processing methods that will be studied in this project.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: